My “Mooning” post generated a rant from an unconventional “writer, scholar, …ologist” and his followers. I get another copy of the same comments practically everyday. I won’t post them because they are ad hominem attacks with no substance behind them. Since they contain poor grammar as well as veiled threats, the incoming address has now been labeled spam.

I will not post his name but it strikes me as very odd that one would attempt to be heard or gain respect via a spam attack. Gain attention, perhaps. But, indeed, the wrong kind. I would expect better from a “professional”.

I appreciate the comments from others, for and against, that I have received for my posts. I have replied to some of you directly or edited the reply slightly to correctly portray our off-blog discussion. It is very hard to put your ideas out there for criticism and to take your blows but it is necessary in order to refine and strengthen one’s view.

“Science is organized common sense where many a beautiful theory was killed by an ugly fact.” Thomas Huxley

I’m not a fan of the “skeptic” label since it holds some negative connotations. I have a mild, genial type of skepticism that is pretty open to hearing about your view (even if I don’t accept it) and I won’t be dismissive of new ideas with a sound basis. Those who rant and rave about my skepticism must not be very fun people to be around. Seems that if you disagree with them, they will have no patience for you.

“I am too much of a skeptic to deny the possibility of anything.” Thomas Huxley

Contrary to popular notions about scientists being closed minded or know-it-alls, the true nature of science is ever-changing. You can’t have progress if you cling to one theory, so in love with it that you can’t let it go no matter how much evidence shows that it is faulty.

Call me naïve or overly polite but if I was to rebut an argument or challenge another’s position, I should be prepared to support my position with some references or evidence. I would hardly think that name calling, stereotype-labeling, and shouting (or the internet equivalent of such) would be very convincing nor would it get my point conceded. Of course, I could be trying to make the point that I am a pompous ass, in which case that would work. But, I can’t think of any circumstances right now when I would do that.

Once upon a time, back in college, I asked a professor a rather obvious question about plate tectonics to which he didn’t know the answer. I was stunned. It seemed so obvious that question would have an answer but he didn’t hesistate to say “I don’t know. Science doesn’t know.” Therefore, the lesson I learned was that we don’t know even some basic things about the world.

Many professionals of all topics claim to be experts – a word I detest. I can’t ever feel comfortable labeled as an expert in anything because the more I learn, the more questions I have and the more I realize what isn’t known. Here is a definition of expert that I can agree with:

“An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes that can be made in his subject, and how to avoid them.” Werner Karl Heisenberg

I’d never consider myself or claim to be some “scholar” on any topic. This avoidance of “expertism” is not shared by all. There are many experienced, well-read, even well-respected professionals out there with various letters after their names or publications to their credit who simply mess up and make mistakes. Worse, there are those who get paid to express a certain view and use their credentials to buoy that view no matter how ridiculous.

Now I’m not talking strictly about “scholars” of paranormal, fringe or Fortean topics. And, I’m not saying that I know any more about my personal spammer than what I can Google about him. My point is: what happened to reasonable discussion, logical argument and fair debate? Regardless of your publications, credits, income, status, titles bestowed upon you by yourself or others, etc., we can all be civilized and argue our position in an educated fashion.

“The deepest sin of the human mind is to believe things without evidence” Thomas Huxley

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